Lessons remembered, and lived:
Be merciful and pure of heart
Rev. Kenneth Nobrega
My two favorite Beatitudes by which I personally try to live out my spiritual life are: "Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy" and "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God."
And these two Beatitude attributes, mercy and purity of heart, are perhaps what best describes the influences that St. Patrick's Seminary professor Father Michael C. Barber, SJ, imparted to me as a seminarian.
All my interactions and conversations with Father Barber were always centered around the topics of faith, faithfulness, spirituality, standing up for the truth, Catholicism, etc., and on never giving into the forces of negativity.
Father Barber always encouraged his seminarians to keep doing what was right and holy and to always remain faithful despite the naysayers and some of the anti-Church culture around us. Father Barber (and now Bishop Barber), I believe, is pure of heart because his whole being and way of life is focused on God, on the Catholic Church and in bringing people's souls closer to God.
And with regards to mercy, Father Barber imparted to me the valuable lesson of being a gentle confessor; an agent of mercy in the confessional by instructing me on the importance of meeting a penitent "where they were" spiritually and by never letting anyone leave feeling hopeless and unloved.
Father Barber taught me the valuable concept of "gradualism" by which you take someone "where they are" in their spiritual life and then continue working with that individual in order to help build them up and continue to help them grow stronger spiritually thus eventually overcoming their own spiritual struggles.
I believe one of the greatest gifts that Bishop Barber will offer Oakland is to influence us by the witness of how he continues to live out his own Christian faith: pure of heart and merciful.
(Father Kenneth Nobrega is director of vocations for the Diocese of Oakland. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2008.)
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